The home construction industry is ever changing. Although the local real estate trends differ in style from market to market, there are still commonalities that are evident in each market. The advantages in construction methods allow builders to better serve the needs of their clients. Below is a list of some of the changes that have taken place in the new home construction industry.
Then and Now: How Home Construction has Changed
Besides building homes bigger, construction has evolved drastically over the last decade. Here are just a few ways:
· Swankier modular construction. Forget thinking that modular homes are tacky, small, and amenity-free. Homes built mostly in a factory and completed on-site can be big, stylish, loaded with bells and whistles, and indistinguishable from stick-built houses.
· Better energy efficiency. HVAC systems outfitted with furnaces that have computer-controlled chambers can sense outside temperatures and adjust interior heat or cold. More windows come standard with low-E glass and vinyl-clad rather than aluminum frames for better heating and cooling transfer. Also, roof insulation has more than doubled to R-38 or R-42 from R-19.
· Greater severe weather tolerance. Houses used to be able to withstand 80- to 90-mile-per-hour winds, but with structural steel plates and rods and huge fastening systems, exterior walls now can hold them in place from the roof to the foundation footers during 120-mph storms. Metal roofs also are favored since they remain intact, unlike asphalt or fiberglass shingles that may crack.
· Healthier materials. Anything that had contained toxic ingredients in the past—paint, carpeting, adhesive, stain, or glue — has been replaced with healthier variations. Many are water-based rather than oil-based, which also has driven down costs.
· Changes in layouts. The dining room may still be alive and well, even if infrequently used, but more homes are built with a casual living space instead of a formal living room. Gaining popularity instead are first-floor master suites, gourmet kitchens, laundry and mud rooms, a shaft for a future elevator, wiring for a media center rather than a separate theater, and screened porches with the option of glass panes for three- or four-season use.
· Greater detailing. Instead of spare spaces that often look cold, many builders now fashion warm, inviting interiors with carved cabinetry, crown and baseboard molding, and lavish paint finishes.
· Radiant heat. No more surges of power to heat and cool, radiant tubing distributes heat evenly throughout a house, and can be controlled by a thermostat, and even zoned.
· Synthetic decks and porches. Manmade materials — wood chips and plastic formed into boards — are replacing wood and pressure-treated wood to save trees, cut mildew and rot, eliminate poisonous materials leaking into the soil, and make outdoor living areas impervious to weather.
· Smart wiring. With easier living a goal, improved technology now allows sprinklers, lights, audio-video systems, and security to be programmed from an office or any computer connection rather than flicked on and off at home.
Sources: Bryan Lendry, president, Brylend Homes Ltd, Jacksonville, Fla.; Orren Pickell, president, Orren Pickell, Designers & Builders, Lincolnshire, Ill.; Howie McArdle, McArdle Construction Inc., Stephentown, N.Y; Ahmed Abdelaziz, president and CEO, Omarica Home Builders, Oak Brook, Ill.